What are your holiday plans? Looking at the Christmas lights? Volunteering at a shelter? Getting away from it all? Some of us love the holidays and for some they are painful, but at the very least they are a reminder to be kind to our fellow humans and creatures at the time of the year when the days are the darkest, but growing light.

Ginger McCall, Oregon’s first-ever public records advocate, recently published her findings on the state of public records in Oregon. McCall’s report concluded that there are barriers in obtaining public records, thus working against transparency. One of these barriers is the high cost of fees and long delays in disclosing public records. Furthermore, the reasoning for high fees is often not disclosed to the public, the report added. EW has found this to be true when dealing with the city of Eugene. Mayor Lucy Vinis has said in the past that she wants to see more transparency. However, the city does not provide EW with a fee waiver or discount for public records requests because newspapers are a “commercial venture.” That contrasts with the University of Oregon, which often provides records to media outlets for free or with a media discount. Looks like the powers that be at the city should add McCall’s report to their winter reading lists.

Police Chief Chris Skinner dropped by EW’s offices this week. Seriously, we didn’t do anything, it was an unannounced social call. As we chatted we learned an interesting tidbit about Eugene Police Department vehicles. Ever notice — and get aggravated by — the way the EPD cars will often have their engines running even when no one is in them? Skinner tells us it’s a failsafe that keeps the in-car computer and systems booted up. The cars will fire up the engine on their own to keep the electronics from running the battery down.

Eleven community members offered their “gifts to the city” on Dec. 14 at the City Club of Eugene. Alice Gentry most impressed us: A woman who has been homeless, she said she spoke for the residents of Opportunity Village and Square One Villages in asking for a gift of at least 5,000 low-cost housing units in Eugene. Pastor Dan Bryant was the master of ceremonies and when the inspiring holiday program ended, we decided that he is indeed a gift to our city.